Our 15th version of Pearson Cousins Camp wrapped up last Saturday morning, and I'm still processing all that we did, said, and ate, but here are seven takeaways and recommendations I can share with those of you who may be considering hosting your own Cousins Camp sometime in the future.
1. Baking and Delivering Goodies to First Responders
For the past 10 camps or so, we have organized our activities around a particular theme -- sports, music, under the sea, zoo animals, art, small things make a big difference, new things, etc. This year the theme was "Others First." I turned the girls loose in my kitchen one afternoon with recipes, ingredients, baking utensils, and a double oven. They formed three stations. One made brownies. Two made Chocolate Chip Cookies, and two more made potato chip cookies. Those five girls also created cards of appreciation to be given with the goodies. A day or so later, they took a couple of fire stations, and the boys took two more, and all the goodies were delivered. I hope this will encourage them to do something similar when they are back home or maybe suggest it for their church's young groups.
2. Half-price Day at Point Mallard Aquatic Center
Hurray for Monday through Thursday half-price admissions!! We really lucked up with this activity. By going early on a Tuesday, the crowd was sparse, everything was clean, and there was no waiting in long lines at the water slides. Three hours was plenty of time, and they did "all the things" several times.
3. Service and Food at Culver's
In addition to two meals a day and snacks at home, we went out for a meal every day for 5 days. I'm reasonably certain that all cousins would agree that Culver's was their favorite. The menu was varied enough to please everyone, the service was attentive, and the frozen custard was amazing. Two thumbs up!
4. Letting the Oldest Ones Prepare a Meal
Margaret and Luke hatched a plan to serve a nice meal to their cousins and grandparents one night during camp. They planned the dishes they wanted to serve -- including an appetizer, an entree, a couple of sides, rolls, two desserts, and some special beverages. Margaret devised a grocery list and sent it to me a couple of weeks before camp. They worked for several hours in the kitchen, set a beautiful table -- complete with china, candles, and flowers cut from the yard. They asked us to spruce up a bit, had printed menus, and served our plates and brought them to the dining room. This was one of the many times we were glad we had the older grands during the week. It was VERY nice.
5. Cake Decorating Class at Dogwood & Magnolia
Alexis Smith owns a beautiful bakery in the quaint, historic town of Mooresville, AL. In addition to offering fresh-baked goods, she also sells attractive products and special gift items from local vendors AND she offers cake and cookie decorating classes. To make arrangements for these classes, you should contact Alexis through her website -- https://www.dogwoodandmagnolia.com/.
Five granddaughters, ages 12-15, thoroughly enjoyed her mini-cake decorating session, and we enjoyed having those cakes for dessert for the next several days. Win-win!
6. Serving a meal to homeless people
Downtown Rescue Mission on Evangel Drive in Huntsville does an amazing job of providing safe shelter and opportunities for rehabilitation to those who have fallen on extremely hard times. They welcome volunteers to come and help in various capacities, but you must get this scheduled and approved by a member of their staff after filling out the Volunteer Application on line and agreeing to their covenent. We served a simple lunch to 100 or so men. It made an impression on me, and I'm quite certain this act of service had an impact on the grandchildren. Again, I hope this is something they can duplicate through their home churches.
7. Blowing an ornament at Orbix Hot Glass
Orbix Hot Glass is located "in the boonies" about 20 minutes from the heart of Fort Payne, so plan a full two hours to drive there from Hartselle. There are only a few days throughout the year when Orbix makes this activity available to the public, so be sure to check the website and reserve a time well in advance. In years past, we have had camp t-shirts and trophies or ribbons for our Awards Night. These ornaments are $40 each, so we chose to use this as a camp keepsake this year. The glass is blown when it is 2000-degrees Fahrenheit, so it takes a few days to cool and properly age afterward. Those who live nearby can go back a week later to pick up their ornaments. In our case, our finished products will be shipped to me, and I'll distribute them well before Christmas.
This place will inevitably remind you of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Bible who were thrown into a fiery furnace that was made "7 times hotter" at the command of King Nebuchadnezzar because they would not fall down and worship his gods. Read the story in Daniel chapter 3 verses 8-30.
P.S. Orbix Hot Glass is one of my "100 Things to Do In Huntsville and North Alabama Before You Die" included in my book. I, of course, purchased a beautiful Auburn ornament that will adorn my tree next Christmas. :)